Rent --"Less than one thousand four hundred forty three minutes. Less than one thousand four hundred minutes....Until I'm in the next grade!"">
By the time this is posted there will be no more than 24 hours left of school. All three of my kids can tell you, down to the nanosecond, exactly how much longer they have to go. I'm just waiting for one of them to launch into an off-key, Glee-esque version of that song from Rent --"Less than one thousand four hundred forty three minutes. Less than one thousand four hundred minutes....Until I'm in the next grade!"
Yes, we all feel like we're in the final lap of the end-of-the-school-year marathon. And I am not sure we properly trained.
First there was the perpetual parade of potlucks. Just attempting, night after night, to come up with a healthy and creative "dish to pass"--as opposed to one to "pass over"--nearly did me in. As hard as I try, I will never be one of those people able to whip up an exotic salad in a hand turned bowl starring a grain thought to have gone extinct during the Aztec Empire. Instead I am the one stealthily plopping down store bought cookies, carefully arranged on a Happy Birthday paper plate, and hoping that no one notices.
Next came the onslaught of award and "Movin' On" ceremonies. There were awards for everything at the middle school level: National Spanish Exam, American Legion, and Science Olympiad, just to name a few. And you'd think since the city of Madison Spelling Bee Champ was among those honored at the ceremony that someone might have tried a little harder to at least spell "moving" correctly. I have to say, though, I was very impressed by the two boys who won the perfect attendance award. Not just perfect attendance in 8th grade, but every day, for all three years. If it's true, as Woody Allen once said, that "80% of success is showing up," I think these guys can pretty much write their tickets.
And then there were the countless year-end field trips. One day they hit the zoo, the next day Governor Dodge State Park, and then off to the Geology Museum and Union South. I think I am mostly just envious; I want to go somewhere fun, too. My daughter came home from last Friday's excursion with a very cute Wisconsin Historical Society pennant. I'm still waiting for my "My Kid Went to Circus World and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt" in a size medium. There has to be something in this for the parents who dutifully signed all the permission slips.
But as crazed as the final weeks of school have been, I don't want to end on a rant. This was a unique year"the one in which I learned to appreciate teachers even more. Wisconsin educators have had it rough since February, and the ones my kids work with have remained committed inspirations. From teaching my eldest that both Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" AND old episodes of The Twilight Zone are great examples of irony, to allowing my 11-year-old to substitute an impassioned "Thriller" lip synch for a more traditional poetry recitation, to giving my daughter the confidence to tackle the "Hamster" spelling list (which is, evidentially, MUCH harder than the "Gerbil" list) it's truly been a year to remember.
And it isn't just the regular classroom teachers who have made this year so special. It's the crossing guard who knows all the kids' names when they walk by her in the morning. It's the librarian who does double-duty as the resident tech master. And I am pretty sure my daughter can tell you the difference between a Modigliani, a Picasso and a Klee. I don't think she learned it from iCarly's artist brother. Or from me.
So before I run off to what I hope is the very last potluck, I want to take this chance to say a public thank-you to some of my very favorite public employees. It's the very least they deserve. I hope that someday, they'll get the very most.comments powered by Disqus
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders " 10 boys and six girls " enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is famous for all sorts of things. Malls are packed with folks exchanging those holiday sweaters that don't fit just right. It's the week those same folks pledge to never again eat another frosted sugar cookie or candy cane (hence the sweater issues). It's also the week the media saturates the public with dozens of "Best of Year" lists.
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.